GOP VA Senate Plan Could Alter Howell's District

Republican bill pushed through state senate on Monday proposes big changes to state senate.

A surprise bill proposed by Virginia state senate Republicans that will redraw the state political map was approved 20-19 Monday. It will be further discussed on Tuesday, but if it passes the House and is approved by Gov. Bob McDonnell, it will essentially re-draw the state senate districts, in many cases making them lean more Republican.

Under the Virginia Constitution, the General Assembly draws new Senate and House districts once a decade, and most recently did so in 2011. Republicans said Monday the propsal was an effort to better represent African American voters.

While the proposal would keep virtually all of  Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd)'s Reston districts, it would change many of her precincts in Vienna.

The proposal adds much of Herndon and Great Falls to Howell's district and is expected to make the 32nd District's voter base 2.79 percent more Republican.

The Washington Post reported senate Democrats think the new map would make at least five districts held by Democrats heavily Republican. The map puts two sitting senators, R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) and Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R-Augusta), into a single district, the Post reported.

Introducing yet another plan is unconstitutional, Senate democrats say, adding that voting while  Sen. Harry Marsh (D), a 79-year-old civil rights leader, traveled to Washington for President Barack Obama's second inauguration was "underhanded." 

The new map, which would take effect in 2015, was tacked onto a bill left over from last year that sought technical adjustments to House district boundaries. 

One Democratic analyst, Kenton Ngo, says "of the 6,147,347 voting age people in Virginia in Census 2010, 2,776,292 would be moved into a new district."

"This redistricting is out of time, out of order and outside the constitution which states that redistricting can only be done in 2011. Our community is being political torn apart without any input or consideration," Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Vienna) said in a statement after voting against the bill.

"This measure is taken on a day when the nation is re-inaugurating our President, and celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King," Petersen said. "It is done outside the ordinary calendar and with the intent to maximize Republican power. There is no other purpose."

In the Republican proposal, Petersen's 34th District would lose much of Vienna, Dunn Loring and the area surrounding Oakton High School, moving those precincts to District 35, a seat held by Dick Saslaw (D).

For a map of districts under the proposed Republican plan, see this interactive from the Virginia Public Access Project.


David Burns January 23, 2013 at 05:52 PM
To Kathy Keith, While I'm reluctant to dredge up the Obamacare wars again, the Senate Obamacare bill, which ultimately became law (with amendments in the reconciliation process which is typical of legislation), passed the Senate 60-39 before Scott Brown even took office. That's entirely different than using a process designed to tweak districts to effect wholesale partisan-driven redistricting in the dead of night, and to add insult to injury making changes that disenfranchise black voters on MLK day and were possible only because one senator, a black civil rights leader, was out of town attending the inauguration of the first black president. Can the Republicans do any more to destroy their brand?
the-stix January 23, 2013 at 07:41 PM
Very miseleading David! The Reid Senate passed a version of Obamacare on Christmas eve 2009 60/39 with no Republican votes. In January 2010 the Senate Democrats lost the 60th vote because Brown took Kennedy’s former seat. The Pelosi House in March then approved the Senate bill with no Republican votes, and passed changes (with no Republican votes) to it so that the amended bill (that was eventually signed by Obama) could be approved under the rule of reconciliation in the Senate with only Democrat votes. Were it not for the Pelosi fancy maneuvering, there would be no Obamacare as we know it today. There was nothing bipartisan with the way this law was rammed down the American people's throat by Democrats Obama, Reid and Pelosi.
John Lovaas January 23, 2013 at 08:47 PM
How this slimey stuff in Richmond is comparable to the legislative process for the Affordable Care Act boggles the imagination. The Republican off-year gerrymander was never revealed until 30 minutes before the hurryup vote on MLK/Inauguration Day. The Affordable Care Act was kicked around for months before the decisive affirmative votes--with solid margins in both houses. Republicans win the Underhanded and Unethical Championship of the millennium--at least so far!
fuldascout January 23, 2013 at 11:16 PM
FreeBSD, OpenBSD or NetBSD?
DGeorge January 25, 2013 at 02:34 PM
I love to see professional politicians like Howel and Plum go home and get a job and stop feeding at the public trough. Term limits are the only way to get rid of these leeches.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »